Provide an Flawless Guest Experience at Your Gala

When you focus on your guests’ enjoyment, your guests will reward you. This may be obvious, but is too often overlooked in the planning of benefit auctions.

Some gala committees do a great job thinking about the party, theme, food, decorations, program, service and the event mission. Those are all important.

But what will pay the biggest dividends is to “think like a guest.” That means taking off your fundraising planner hat and putting on your guest hat for a moment.

Questions to Ask Yourself (as a Guest)

Wearing your “guest hat”, ask yourself these questions to see if your event is guest-centric.

Before the Gala

  • Did I get a “save the date” card many months before the event?
  • When I registered to attend, was the process simple, clear and hassle free?
  • Did I get an email a few days before the event reminding me about the start time, dress code and logistics?
  • Did I get a “Hot Sheet” or website link of live auction items to consider so I could start planning my bidding?

Gala Check-in

  • Was I greeted at the door when I arrived?
  • Was my check-in process simple and hassle-free?
  • Did I feel “transformed” like I was at a party when I entered the first room of the event?

The Auction

  • Was it clear to me how I could bid, whether using software or bid forms?
  • Were there volunteers ready to assist me if I had questions?
  • Was it easy for me to read and understand the item descriptions?
  • Was the live auction fun?

Dinner & Speeches

  • When we moved to dinner, was my table easy to find and were there helpers to assist?
  • Was the food high quality, served properly and on time?
  • Did I have to listen to long boring speeches or were they crisp and to the point?

Final Impressions

  • Did the event start and end on time?
  • Was I thanked early and often for my support?
  • Was checkout hassle-free?
  • Did I have to wait too long in the valet to get my car?
  • Did I feel like my contribution mattered?
  • Was I thanked after the event with a letter and receipt or perhaps a follow-up call?
  • Would I attend this event again?
  • Would I adopt this cause as one of my few favorites based on what I experienced?

A nationally recognized benefit auctioneer and consultant, Jay Fiske has helped raise millions of dollars for a wide variety of organizations. Additionally, he authored The Big Book of Benefit Auctions.